Attitudes about homosexuality have changed much faster than I ever expected. In the 1950s and 1960s, mothers worried about protecting their children from homosexual pedophiles. Today, they’re card carrying members of P-FLAG.
Sixty years ago, homosexuality was illegal in every state but Illinois. Until 1974, the American Psychiatric Association considered homosexuality to be a mental illness. In 1975, the federal government lifted a ban on the hiring of homosexuals. Fast forward to 2015 when the Supreme Court decided gays and lesbians have the right to
Equal rights and widespread public acceptance of LGBT folks are good things. Kids come out as gay, lesbian, and transgender at younger and younger ages. Understanding is growing that gender, gender identity, and sexual preference are three very different animals.
With acceptance comes assimilation and the end of segregation. LGBT couples can go on dates anywhere straight people go without having to worry about getting beat up, bullied, or harassed. For most of my life, gay people were a hidden subculture. Now we’re everywhere.
When I came out nearly forty years ago, the local gay bar was the center of the gay universe. It was one of the few ways to meet other gay men and the only place we could dance together. It was also the sole source of gay news, and the place where we learned how to look, talk, and dance.
The downside of assimilation is the death of gay culture. Gay bars were declining even before hookup apps put them out of business. Acceptance in the straight world eliminated the need for gay establishments. Now gay people are just like everyone else.
Ultimately, being like everyone else is a good thing. I’m thrilled about the progress we’ve made, but also glad to have come out when I did. In 1979 — ten years after the Stonewall riots — police raids had become a thing of the past, and AIDS hadn’t yet arrived. Spending six nights a week at the gay bar might not have been the best use of my time or money, but I had a blast and have memories to last a lifetime.